SWOLLEN by Melissa Lion


Age Range: 13 & up
Email this review


High-schooler Samantha lives in a Southern California cultural wasteland in the cold, under-furnished rooms of a huge condo complex with her emotionally distant father and his current girlfriend. The setting parallels Sam’s arid social life, which contains only one friend and a number of one-night stands with boys she’s doesn’t know. When she starts to date newcomer Farouk, she hopes to leave her promiscuous past behind, believing he shares her desire for “peace and focus and a little bit of quiet.” They don’t communicate well, yet to be with him she gives up running track, her only passion. Understated prose with spare, carefully crafted imagery echoes Sam’s subdued life. But the low-key action, bleak setting, and lack of tension make it hard to sustain interest in her character or problems. While it’s gratifying that her father’s girlfriend ends up supplying Sam with the sense of family and meaning the girl has lacked, the redemption feels tacked on, a sudden warmth that seems too good to be true. (Fiction. 13+)

Pub Date: Aug. 10th, 2004
ISBN: 0-385-74642-3
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2004